Did you know that you can depress a depressed person? You can. I’ll admit from the beginning of this post that I’m not in the greatest of places.
I just spent a week in the hospital. I haven’t been well for a while. I walked into my therapist’s office one day last week, having left my house completely cold and lost and told him I swallowed a month’s prescription of blood pressure medicine. I was rushed to the ER in and out of consciousness as sirens faded in and out of my ear. I heard the words “overdose” as they quickly wheeled the stretcher into the ER and put me in the trauma room. I began having seizures and dangerously low blood pressure. There was mention of heart failure and kidney failure.
I spent 8 hours there for stabilization before being moved to the ICU for another 4 days. After that I spent 2 day on a regular unit. That entire time I was confined to a bed with an alarm to make sure I didn’t get up, as I was a fall risk from the seizures. I had pads on the sides of my bed in case of more seizures. I had lingering headaches, no appetite, and I felt like crap. People came to see me. Well meaning people. Wonderful, supportive people that I dearly love who just wanted to be there. But some didn’t know what to say. And I hold none of these things against any of them, because in moments like those, just having people show up and let you know they haven’t given up on you completely is really all you need.
But as a courtesy, let me share a few things that you should not ever say to someone who is depressed.
- “Think of all of the good things you have – your life is amazing, you shouldn’t be depressed.”
This is perhaps the most depressing thing you can ever say to a depressed person. Each day, I feel tortured and guilty as I watch my two beautiful kids, resentful of my obligations to them and terrified they’ll ask me to play. My adventurous and outgoing husband is weighed down by me. He’d never admit what a burden I am. My heart goes out to him, and I feel ashamed that I can’t share his excitement, his zest and his joy in life. I’m trapped in a glass jar, watching life go on around me; I can taste the happiness of those who surround me and it’s bitter. Bitter, disappointing and terrible.
I’m well aware of my blessings- my children, my house, my husband, my electricity, the food on the table. Mental illness is far beyond the “good things that I have”.
- “Everyone struggles, no one has a perfect life – you just need to accept that.”
This is true. I agree. But guess what? Not everyone struggles to convince themselves that life is worth living each morning as they drag their depressed and apathetic ass out of bed. Not everyone needs their life to be saved by a tiny pill (or cocktail of pills) in an orange bottle. Not everyone feels like their problems would be solved if the world would just end for god’s sake, because that would be an easy way out. Not everyone has to rely on their therapist or psychiatrist to sometimes make them sign a piece of paper to just promise to live another week.
- “You’re just not trying hard enough.”
I have had depression for MY WHOLE FREAKING LIFE. I’ve been trying for MY WHOLE FREAKING LIFE. I’m 31 – that’s a lot of years of trying, and I’m tired. I’m out of things to try. When you say this to me, I see myself through your eyes: a lazy and unmotivated loser who can’t take care of herself. Do you know that the state of my mental health is beyond willpower, beyond making a decision? If you think I enjoy this depressed state of mine, you’re outta your ever loving mind. I will keep trying until I find an answer or I just run out of steam and rot into the couch, but until then, I ask for a little compassion and understanding. I don’t choose to stay here. I’ve busted my butt in 5 years of therapy twice a week to get to the point where I can even get out of bed long enough to have a coffee date with you. The amount of money I’ve spent in co-pays, psych ward hospitalizations, residential treatment centers and partial hospitalizations could pay half my mortgage. Trust me, this is not a flipping choice.
- “You’re fine – it’s just a slump.”
Does a slump last a lifetime? My honest response to that: F*** life. I’m done.
My dear readers and friends, please do not misread this as anger. Read this as a plea for understanding, compassion and not to just talk wildly. I’d rather sit in silence with you than you say something (unintentionally) hurtful just because you feel the need to say something.
Be patient while people recover. Be compassionate. Love.
Until next time.~Lindsay